Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tailgate Alaska: This is How It Begins

Head out the window, foot on the gas
Overnight flight to Anchorage arrives right on time. Maybe even a little early at 12:35am. The one time I'd be more comfortable spending hours in a holding pattern. You see my accommodations for the next eight hours are on a bench in the terminal. The RV isn't ready 'til 8:30 and I don't have a hotel. At least it's heated and indoors. Plus, I'm on a roll with freaky-ass dreams. Ask me about them sometime, but be prepared.

The RV - alternately called motorhome or coach - wasn't ready when I showed up, so I had to mosey next door to a bar that served breakfast. I've never been in a bar at 8:30 in the morning, but I have listened to the NoFX song "First Call" enough times to know what I was walking into. Thankfully the song wasn't spot on. Two other mopes joined me as I passed on a questionable breakfast and settled on some tea.

If only it stayed that sunny
When my ride was finally ready and I was properly briefed as to how to mix my urine with antifreeze - 1:1 ratio, so nothing freezes - I blasted downtown for some real breakfast at the Snow City Cafe. Crab cakes benedict and carrot cake for the road kept me company as I headed north on the Glenn Highway (1). Wait, what? I forgot my cameras? Better stop by Wal-Mart - loose return policy - to 'buy' a new one.

No moose were harmed in the shooting of this sign
Rolling north past Palmer the Chugach Range stayed in tantalizingly in view. The only roadside viewpoints I missed were the ones I was driving too fast to stop for. The RV might be built like a truck, but it navigated the wooded roller coaster much like the local sheep. Once I looked down only to find I was going nearly 80. Nimble and quiet that one. That being said, I almost caught some air on choppier sections of the road. The frost heaves nearly heaving me out of my seat.

As I made the turn south on the Richardson Highway (4) the road turned into a birch and spruce tunnel. The light at the end signified by the ever-present Chugach. Light snow started falling as I reached my destination, Thompson Pass, the ABA parking lot and Tailgate Alaska. Only to find the office was closed. A hand-written sign on the door said "Fish fry at the Fat Mermaid. Come join us!" Fat Mermaid? Don't mind if I do. Onward to Valdez.

Insert photo of you and your 500-pound tuna here
The snow turned to rain coming down the mountains and of course by the time I got there, the fish was gone. This being a port town fish was readily available, so I went down the street for the halibut. Not as good as I had hoped for, but I was in Alaska, fish in my belly and freeriding in sight. Here's hoping for more snow, but other than that I couldn't ask for much.

A lone breadstick always looks phallic.
Down the street, The Board Room hosted the King of the Hill opening party. Nick Perata and Mark Sullivan took the mic and told the news. Delay. Since the WESC was delayed, it would start on Saturday and KotH would wait a few. So, until then, we ride anyway.

Today, instead of contest coverage, I'll be checking in for tomorrow's heli trip, checking out base camp and probably checking out some survival classes. Full coverage of the Tailgate lot to follow. Right now, gentle snow, in-n-out sun, breakfast on the way. Peace.

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